Drivers and outcomes of branded mobile app usage intention

Purpose: This study examines the drivers and outcomes of the usage intention of branded mobile applications (apps), revealing findings of theoretical and practical relevance. First, it uncovers the specific technological features that underpin the perceived usefulness and ease of use of branded apps driving (directly and indirectly) usage intention. Second, it outlines two key outcomes that are relevant to the strategic management of branded apps: willingness to recommend the app and willingness to pay to continue using the app. Approach: This study uses data randomly derived from a panel of one million UK consumers, analyzed via structural equations modeling. The unit of analysis was individual apps prominently displaying a brand identity. The study tested indirect relationships between the key drivers considered and usage intention, via perceived usefulness and ease of use. Findings: Consumers who view branded apps as protecting their privacy, customizable and compatible with what they do, will have stronger perceptions of usefulness and ease of use, and greater intention to use the app. These effects also occur indirectly. Furthermore, usage intention drives the willingness to recommend the app and to pay to continue using it. Practical implications: To influence usage intention, managers can improve the perception of usefulness of branded apps by protecting consumer privacy, and improving the app’s design and its compatibility with people’s needs and lifestyle. Managers can also enhance the perception of ease of use of the branded app by heightening its security and ubiquity. Combined, these factors can enhance (directly and indirectly) the intention to use the app, which will lead to the willingness to recommend the app and pay for it. Originality/value: This study extends previous research by examining factors driving the intention to use branded apps and the resulting outcomes. It also offers a model that yields predictions for individual branded apps (not the brand powering the app), thus providing practical recommendations on how to manage, in general, apps with a brand identity.